DCC Plays a Role in Navigation of Forebrain Axons across the Ventral Midbrain Commissure in Embryonic Xenopus Academic Article uri icon


  • In the developing vertebrate brain, growing axons establish a scaffold of axon tracts connected across the midline via commissures. We have previously identified a population of telencephalic neurons that express NOC-2, a novel glycoform of the neural cell adhesion molecule N-CAM that is involved in axon guidance in the forebrain. These axons arise from the presumptive telencephalic nucleus, course caudally along the principal longitudinal tract of the forebrain, cross the ventral midline in the midbrain, and then project to the contralateral side of the brain. In the present study we have investigated mechanisms controlling the growth of these axons across the ventral midline of the midbrain. The axon guidance receptor DCC is expressed by the NOC-2 population of axons both within the longitudinal tract and within the ventral midbrain commissure. Disruption of DCC-dependent interactions, both in vitro and in vivo, inhibited the NOC-2 axons from crossing the ventral midbrain. Instead, these axons grew along aberrant trajectories away from the midline, suggesting that DCC-dependent interactions are important for overcoming inhibitory mechanisms within the midbrain of the embryonic vertebrate brain. Thus, coordinated responsiveness of forebrain axons to both chemostimulatory and chemorepulsive cues appears to determine whether they cross the ventral midline in the midbrain.

publication date

  • January 2000